A top GOP staffer says more than 70 senators would oppose the surge if their vote matched their comments in private meetings. “The White House is trying to but they really don’t know how to handle this,” said a senior GOP aide involved in the talks.
White House officials are pleading with GOP senators to oppose any congressional resolution that specifically condemns Bush’s effort to escalate the war effort in coming months, congressional sources said Friday morning. In private conversations, the officials are telling senators that the resolution would demoralize U.S. troops and hurt the GOP politically for years to come. ~The Politico
That figure of “more than 70” presumably means more than 20 Republicans reject the “surge” as a plan, but only about six of them appear willing to consider actually voting that way. (These would be the Senators Hewitt’s Hordes are targeting for retribution.) I would say that it is the 14+ other Republican Senators who seem to be engaged in the worst political cowardice, supporting something they don’t believe will work because they are too afraid of breaking with Mr. Bush.
The thing that will hurt the GOP politically for years to come is the image of the senseless Republican perpetuation of a war the American people have not wanted to be in for over a year and now wish to see concluded in short order. That image is being burned into the public mind by these last two years of Mr. Bush’s presidency, and each time the Republicans bind themselves to Mr. Bush on Iraq the more they ensure that they will go down along with his approval ratings. Mr. Bush has said that the Republican position is that they want to win in Iraq–so why does he pursue a plan that even almost half of the Senators from his own party do not, in fact, believe will achieve that victory? How long does he expect the public to endure his hectoring that we are demoralising the soldiers by inflicting on him some slight political embarrassment of congressional repudiation? Imagine how much greater the embarrassment would be for Mr. Bush if not even a non-binding resolution reached the floor of the Senate, thanks to his browbeating, and the “surge” went exactly according to plan and still achieved essentially nothing. Is Mr. Bush really more prepared to definitely expose additional soldiers to death and injury in Baghdad operations than he is willing to see a potential dip in their morale?